The 2018 Yalta Economic Forum has kicked off in Russia’s Crimea. Besides Russian companies and businessmen, the event is being attended by European politicians and entrepreneurs. Sputnik sat down with Gunnar Lindemann – Berlin regional parliament deputy, to talk about Russo-German relations, sanctions, and humanitarian contacts.
Sputnik: You’re here with your colleagues from the AfD, and also, with German businessmen. What’s your mission here at the Forum?
Gunnar Lindemann: We were in the Crimea in February with some members of different regional parliaments. And in February we were invited to come to this Economic forum. I brought five people from the Bundestag, from my party — the AfD, and we also brought some businessmen with us, who are interested in making contacts. Businessmen in Germany are afraid because of the sanctions. It’s difficult to explain to them — to go and look for opportunities, that the businessmen, who are the first to come to the forum to make contacts, will be the first to do business once the sanctions have finished. So, we’re trying to support our businessmen, but it’s difficult in Germany.
Sputnik: How much pressure do you feel because of the sanctions in political field, and how large is the impact on the German economy?
Gunnar Lindemann: Sanctions are a big problem in Germany, for the German economy, because the German economy has experienced the biggest losses from sanctions when compared to the British or American economy. German companies have had a lot of problems because of the sanctions, because they could not deliver their goods to Russia. And we need to deliver our goods to Russia to save jobs in Germany. And, of course, we need resources from Russia, like [natural] gas, for the German people.
With the Merkel administration it’s a little difficult in Germany. My party — the AfD, we want to change all that, we are against the sanctions, we want to end the sanctions. Of course, we are now in the opposition, but we want to give a sign — also to the German people — to say: look, there is a problem, let’s change that. And if we give one sign, give another sign, sometimes it’s possible to change. I will explain it to you, for example, the Syrian policy of the German government. The Merkel administration always says that they don’t want to talk to the Assad government. Last month there was an AfD delegation in Damascus, Syria and the Merkel administration was very angry at first, and now the Merkel administration is saying: ok, let’s talk to the Assad government. So, it is possible also from the opposition to bring about change step by step. It will take a long time, because if we were in the government, we would simply enact a law and it wouldn’t be a problem.
So, we just need send out signs and end the sanctions step by step for our businessmen, and, of course, for the people of the Crimea. We met many regular people, businessmen, here in February, and they have problems getting European visas, students cannot go and study in the EU. Professors don’t come to the Crimea because they are afraid of sanctions from the Ukrainian government. It’s not good for the people, because they should be able to share their experiences. That’s the reason to end these sanctions.